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West Coast Wall: Groups Want Assault-Weapons Ban, Calif. to Wash.

Advocates for gun-law reform believe it's possible to enact an assault-weapons ban that reaches from California north to Washington. (Pixabay)
Advocates for gun-law reform believe it's possible to enact an assault-weapons ban that reaches from California north to Washington. (Pixabay)
July 29, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. - Advocacy groups, lawmakers, even the governor are calling for reform of Oregon's gun laws. The group Ceasefire Oregon, along with its sister organization in Washington, are joining with others to help create a "West Coast Wall," an assault-weapons ban stretching from Washington to California.

Penny Okamoto, the executive director of Ceasefire Oregon, said the wall would amount to a regional ban, solving a problem illustrated in cities like Chicago.

"It has suffered horrifically from gun violence, even though it has really good gun laws," she said. "But the problem is that many, too many, guns are being brought in from either other parts of the state, or other states connected to Chicago."

Nearly 60 percent of guns recovered at crime scenes were from out-of-state, according to a 2014 report by Chicago law enforcement. Ceasefire Oregon stepped up its campaign to ban assault weapons after a shooting at a Clackamas mall in 2012.

This month, Governor Kate Brown announced "Oregonians United Against Gun Violence," outlining policy proposals for the state's legislative session in 2017. The executive order includes a ban on extended-capacity magazines, which enable shooters to fire a large number of rounds before reloading. Okamoto said it also would close what's known as the "boyfriend loophole," so that people convicted of certain domestic-violence crimes no longer have access to firearms.

"She has a work group set up for domestic violence, trying to see what we can do to reduce domestic violence, especially in terms of gun violence," she added. "Another thing she did was strongly urge Congress to pass an effective assault-weapons ban."

According to Okamoto, even gun owners are backing her organization and the policies proposed by Brown.

"The vast majority of gun owners support the actions that we do," she said. "And we know that around half of gun owners actually support an assault-weapons ban. They don't understand why people would have a rifle like that."

She adds Ceasefire Oregon is planning a campaign to educate the public on the assault weapons ban and West Coast Wall.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR